Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon {Race Recap}

You are strong, you are ready, you are going to do this. Trust your training.

Over the 26.2 miles of the marathon, I repeated this to myself over and over again. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget it. I needed my head to be in the game. I needed to focus on the race and not be distracted by negativity or doubt.

I’m going to pause here and preemptively apologize for the length of this post and hello unflattering pictures. Obviously I have not learned how to be photogenic during races. Maybe the professional pictures will be awesome. Anyway, I honestly still feel like I may have dreamed it all and the race is still to come.


I woke up before dawn after a restless night of sleep. I quickly grabbed my pre-race food and went to the breakfast area of the hotel. I sat listening to the wind outside and watching the sunrise as I ate three pieces of almond butter and jam toast. I returned to the room, did my usual routine and after checking the hourly weather forecast, decided capris, a tank top, long sleeved hooded shirt and my wind breaker with an ear warmer and gloves would be a good idea. Once dressed I met Amy and her husband for a ride to the buses.

LWTM bus

I was strangely calm as we boarded the bus and even as we made our way into the high school where we stayed warm before the race started. It was great, bathrooms, music, water and coffee. We were able to easily find our friend Megan for a quick picture before we were all lead outside for the start.

Pre-Race LWTM

My game plan was to stick with the 3:30 pacer until the half way point. I had Josh’s voice in my head telling me that I could easily run an 8 min/mile pace. After the half point, I would assess how I was feeling and decide how to proceed. I easily found my pacer Don and told him I was going to do my best to stick with him. I didn’t realize that it was a gun start, not a chip start until he told me. We were outside maybe two minutes before the bell sounded and we were off. I made sure I got across that starting line quick.

The Race

We had a few little curves before we actually made it onto the trail. It was a cold first mile with a nasty headwind and temperatures in the 30s. I was glad I opted for my capris rather than shorts and compression socks. Once we were on the trail, the wind became a more of a side wind and we had a little bit of insulation from the trees after a long open patch. The first 5k flew by and I was just so thankful that I wasn’t having to do any weaving or worry about working tangents.

I chatted a little bit with the Don (pacer) and a few of the people around me. I was surprised and a little leary about my ability to maintain the pep in my step. I tried to just enjoy the moment. I looked around at the scenery and read every single motivational sign put along the trail by the race volunteers. It was a really nice touch.

I took my first gel a little early, just after the 10k mark. I had finished breakfast at about 4:45 am, so I was starting to get hungry. Though I was extremely careful about I ate all week, I was fearful of GDF (gel digestive failure), but the gel went down just fine. Our pace group started getting smaller. Some people sped up and other dropped back.  I was feeling amazing. The weather, though windy at times, was actually pretty ideal. It was a beautiful sunny morning and cold but not so much so that I was shivering.

The next several miles are a little bit of a blur. I knew the only real ‘hill’ was coming up and that some time after the turn I should see my family. As we curved around with the trail, I looked forward to that turn and didn’t even notice the hill. Around mile 11, I decided it was time to lose my jacket. I had thought ahead and put my arm band with my phone under it so I only fumbled slightly as I tried to pull it off and tie it around my waist without dropping it or tripping myself.

After the turn I knew it was pretty much a straight shot to the finish line. I took my second gel around mile 12.5. We cruised past the half way point at 1:45 on the dot. I had just set a new half marathon personal record by a minute and a half. Woohoo! More exciting to me at that point was that I was still with the 3:30 pacer and continuing to feel good except for some grumbling in my stomach. Up until that point, I had seen one porta-potty. With the stomach threatening to act up, I started looking around for a place to peel off the trail into the trees. I starting thinking, oh shit, I may have to actually relieve myself just off the trail where lots of runners will likely catch a glimpse. I drank some more water and kept moving trying to think of anything else.

Josh called just as we closed in on the 15th mile. Knowing that it was going to be very cold for spectators, I told Josh not to worry about trying to see me prior to the half way point. I figured he must be close. He just missed me at mile 16 but I saw some friends which was exciting! It always so much fun being able to see people you know on the sides.

At this point, it was myself, Don and one other runner. Don said that if we were feeling good around mile 23-24, to speed up and leave him behind. If not, that was ok, but he wanted us to finish with him. He did not want to cross that finish line alone. I assured him I was going to do my best. He was very positive and kept telling me how strong I was looking as we chatted a bit. Right around then, a runner I had met during my last 22 mile training run, cruised up to say hi. Only at a small race like this would we have bumped into each other.

I took my third gel at mile 18. I was starting to get tired mentally but physically I was feeling strong, really strong. I knew the wall could be coming but was hoping it would be just a tiny fairy-sized (as Ella would say) wall that I would easily overcome. After all, I was strong, I was ready and I could do it. I was doing it. I saw friends again who snapped this picture. That’s my friend Megan’s brother to my left.


Our group was down to just Don and me by mile 19. I guess it was up to me to not let him finish alone. I saw Josh and the kids at mile 20. I screamed out to them in excitement and tossed them my ear band. Don yelled to the kids, “Mommy is going to Boston!”

Jess Mile 20 LWTM

It was then that it hit me. Unless something went drastically wrong, I was going to qualify for Boston. I started calculating in my head what my time would be if I slowed to a 10 min/mile. I knew that wouldn’t happen but it’s a lot easier to do that when running that to calculate an 8:30 or 9 min/mile over 6.2 more miles.

The next two miles started to feel a little more difficult. I decided to take a fourth gel between 22 and 23. I fell back behind Don a bit but no more than a few seconds. He kept looking back for me and I’d yell I was still there. Mile 24 was my fastest mile as I tried to get back on track with Don at 7:43. With us side by side again, he told me that he wanted me to finish before him. Jokingly he said then I’d be able to say that I beat the 2011 winner.

We ran past mile 25 and slowly, a red dot appeared before us. He asked me if I saw it and said, that is Boston. Right there. I warned him that I was going to hug him at the finish line. We inched closer and closer to the finish line. He said I had lied, the first half marathon wasn’t my new PR, this half was because we were going to negative split the race. Right as I got to the last trail crossing I heard Josh cheering, Don said go, go and I did my best to sprint through the finish line.

Jess Finish Line 1 LWTMJess Finish Line 2 LWTMJess Finish Line LWTM

As I passed under the big red arch, I saw 3:29:2X on the clock. What?!

Official time: 3:29:28      Average Pace: 7:59 min/mile

Post Race

I turned around and hugged Don, thanking him for keeping me going. Keeping me steady and helping me get my first Boston qualifying time and huge new personal record. I picked up my medal and t-shirt then went towards Josh and the kids.

Ella ran up and hugged me saying she was proud of me, which of course made me start to cry. As soon as Josh hugged me I started blubbering a bit. I was in shock. I had just run, like actually ran every single step of 26.2 miles. I negative split the marathon by 32 seconds (not huge, but a negative split) and qualified for Boston with a 5+ minute cushion.

Family at the finish line LWTM

I knew Amy would be coming through the shoot soon so I hurried, well as fast as I could, back to the sidelines to cheer her in. A few minutes later I saw our friend Dawn cross and qualify for Boston. I cheered her in and then waited anxiously for Amy. When we saw her we all yelled and cheered. She came through, hands in the air, celebrating her first BQ.


BRF Finish Line LWTM

We celebrated a little bit before we parted ways for showers and cleaning up. A little while later I heard that my friend Megan PR’d by 25 minutes too! It was a banner day for all of us. Josh, the kids and I grabbed some lunch before heading home because I needed something other than gluten-free bread, almond butter, jam and bananas which was basically all I ate last week.


Of course I was pretty excited to check out my Garmin stats. Thanks to my awesome pacer, I ran pretty evenly throughout the race. Only six of the 26.2 miles were at an 8:00+ min/mile pace. The slowest of which was 8:03. My fastest miles were miles 24 and 26. I guess those fast finish long runs really helped.  The first half was done in 1:45:00 and our second half was done in 1:44:28. I was 70th out of 326 finishers, 5th of 25 women in the 30-34 age group and 13th of 114 female finishers.

This was a wonderful race. I wasn’t sure if I would like such a small race, but I loved it. It made me want to find other small races to do. The volunteers were amazing, even bringing candy, pretzels and homemade treats to the water stops. The trail was beautiful and flat. This course is meant for personal bests. Everything came together for me, the weather, the course, my training and fueling. I did it and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to duplicate it again.

When we got home, I booked a hotel room stat for April 17, 2017. OMG, I’m going to Boston!


Lake Wobegon Marathon Training Review

It’s race week! Eek. I’m feeling better than I was last week but still have a gross cough and phlegm stuck in my throat. I’m doing anything I can to get rid of it. Hopefully all will be well come Saturday morning.

This week is full of uneventful runs. I have only two scheduled, one was for 30 minutes last night and the other for 20 minutes which I’ll do on Thursday. Hopefully we will get a break in the rain tomorrow so I can also do that run outside. It’s much easier to let my body move at its natural pace outdoors. With little to report in actual training, I’m going to do a little training review. Over the past 15 weeks I’ve put in a lot of hard work.

Total Miles Run: 479.85
Average Weekly Mileage: 31.76 miles
Highest Weekly Mileage: 39 miles
Number of Tempo Runs: 15
Number of Interval Runs: 14
Fastest Interval Pace: 5:27 min/mile (Orangetheory), 6:18 min/mile (400m)
Number of Long Runs: 15
Average Long Run Distance: 15.4 miles
Average Long Run Pace: 8:27 min/mile
Number of Orangetheory Workouts: 13

Training through the winter in less than ideal conditions is no joke. While most of my runs were great, there were a few this round that were tough. Deep snow, extremely slippery ice and bitter cold kept training interesting. While those runs definitely slowed me down, I think they helped toughen me up a bit.

There are a few things I did a little differently this time around. First, I technically added a fourth day of running with the introduction of my weekly Orangetheory session. While this didn’t add much mileage, it was extra wear and tear on the body. I’d like to think that it’s helped with my speed and endurance. After all, I definitely had never run 5:27 min/mile interval before.

I upped my mileage ever so slightly as well. For the first time I hit nearly 40 miles in a single week. I’ve never done that before. I believe in my last training cycle my highest mileage was 37 miles. While that is pretty minimal weekly mileage for some marathoners, I think it’s pretty good for only running three days/week. My body handled both the increase in mileage and addition of Orangetheory well.

Hopefully all of this training will pay off on race day.

The weather is looking promising at the moment. The forecast is for upper 30s when we start and a high in the mid-50s for the day with 15-25 mph winds. If those are tail winds, I’ll be all for it. I’m struggling to decided on what to wear. I think I’ll bring multiple options with me.

For now, I’m off to celebrate National Foam Rolling Day. I know you’re jealous.

Lake Wobegon Marathon Training {Week 15}

What’s that pain? OMG my throat is sore. There is no way I’d get sick before a marathon again. Nope, not a chance…right?

The taper crazies have set in. I’ve had phantom pains and trouble sleeping. I’ve had bad dreams and guess what, I’m sick. Luckily it is not strep. Phew. As it turns out it is just a run of the mill upper respiratory infection.

I’m seeing a trend here with my immune system. I’m starting to wonder if I’m self sabotaging because I’m afraid of missing my lofty goals. I mean what are the chances that I get sick before Chicago and then again this time around? This is just nuts. Over the past week I’ve napped just about every day, been hydrating, doing the netti pot and taking zinc in hopes that I will kick before race day.

Needless to say, I have taken it easy this week. I slowed my paces on my tempo and intervals this week and I skipped Orangetheory which was really a bummer. I also ran my last long run inside. Amy and I called it quits after just over a half mile into our run. Smoke from the fires in Canadian was so heavy, the air quality was awful. It just wasn’t worth it to stress my lungs any more than necessary. I was definitely glad that it was only 10 miles.

Next week calls for only two easy runs for a total of 50 minutes. One week to go!

Monday – 8 mile tempo (8:01 min/mile avg.)
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – 3 miles walk + strength
Thursday – 3×1600 @ 7:19 min/mile (7:51 min/mile avg.)
Friday – 2.25 mile walk
Saturday – 10.06 miles
Sunday – TBD but probably rest

Lake Wobegon Marathon Training {Week 14}

I had a scare this week.

No, not a pregnancy scare, a dreaded injury scare. Mid-workout at Orangetheory, just after a one minute all-out sprint, my IT band started burning. It didn’t hurt but burned like someone squirted a line of gasoline inside my leg and lit it. I stopped immediately, stretched and then tried to slowly run again. It kept burning so I got off the treadmill and moved over to the elliptical. The oh-shit, it’s close too the race looks on my friends Morgan and Ashley’s faces expressed just what I was feeling. This is not happening right? Just to be cautious, I skipped my interval run on Thursday, opting instead for a good 45 minutes of very painful foam rolling.

Confession, while I always stretch after runs, I have been severally neglecting foam rolling. Honestly, I really dislike foam rolling.  I hadn’t realized just how damn tight my IT bands had gotten. I was on the brink of tears when I finished.

I woke up very early Friday morning, with pain-free legs and decided to head to the gym for my intervals. With every interval distance I have a range of target paces. A little nervous about too much speed, I stayed at the slowest end of my range for my 800m intervals. I’m happy to report, no further burning sensation. In fact, I felt good. Little sore from Orangetheory and foam rolling, but not injury sore.

I felt good again for my run on Sunday morning, at least my legs did. I’m getting a cold again. My throat hurts, I have a headache and I’m tired. Really tired. If my sore throat doesn’t get better by Monday, I’m going to pop into Urgent Care for a strep test. Fingers crossed it’s just a silly little cold that I can kick ASAP.

13 days and counting.

Monday – 4 mile tempo (7:55 min/mile avg.)
Tuesday – 1800 yd swim
Wednesday – Orangetheory
Thursday – Rest
Friday – 7×800 @ 7:13 min/mile (7 miles @ 7:48 min/mile avg.)
Saturday – 15 mile run
Sunday – 1.5 mile walk

And since I forgot to include it in my previous training post, here’s what week 13 looked like:

Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 6×1200 @ 7:08 min/mile (7.75 miles @ 7:47 min/mile avg.)
Wednesday – Orangetheory
Thursday – 7 mile tempo (7:57 min/mile avg.)
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 22 miles
Sunday – 3.05 mile cycle + 2.25 mile walk